Blue Like Jazz (a preview– the p is silent)

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There were a zillion good things about NYWC this year, but the most surprising and coolest part for me was getting in on a preview of the Blue Like Jazz movie. Director Steve Taylor was on hand to show the film and there may have been a Q&A that went with it– but I missed the Q&A part if it took place.

I should confess that I adore Steve Taylor. I geeked out a little when I got to talk to him afterwards. I thanked him for being inspiring and said something eloquent like “um… thanks for everything you’ve done for… uh… the whole world. You made it better and me feel less weird.” (Don’t make fun. At least I got words out, unlike when I met Sandi Patty and couldn’t say anything at all.)

I don’t want to give away specifics or spoilers. I’m assuming it’s okay to write a little review since I didn’t sign anything and we weren’t asked not to talk about it. I’ll be honest in saying that I went to the movie mostly to see Steve Taylor, but I completely enjoyed the experience. Here’s the trailer:

Blue Like Jazz is a movie (and a book) that speaks to a certain type of personality. We’re dealing with quirky stuff and an honest, unfiltered look at faith. Not everyone can handle that and certainly not everyone can embrace that. The movie is not a wholesome, feel good, specifically Christian film industry product. Taylor, himself, in introducing it unapologetically said there would be swear words. It’s PG-13.

While churches will rally around a movie like Courageous or Fireproof, most won’t for this one. It’s crazy. It’s artsy. It’s fun. This is a story of a black and white Christian searching for identity after being thrown into a multi-colored world.  And it won’t leave you with black and white themes. Blue Like Jazz doesn’t pre-chew food for you; you’ll have to digest it on your own. Whatever faction of Christians dislike and ignore this movie won’t be missed when it catches on with the borderline or non-Christian crowd.

Sometimes it seems cool to bash people who put themselves out there. I know Donald Miller has taken some heat for a few of his blogs and comments. I’ve found myself disagreeing with some of what he says. Haters will find plenty in this story to support whatever their personal opinion of him is. The mother character is a bit 2 dimensional but Penny is freaking cool.  The character Donald Miller is adorably awkward. I have no doubt that a guy in a bear suit riding a bike will win over all of the haters. I think most will find a cleverly laid out film that shows how even closely adhering to plot structure fails to fully encapsulate a complex story.

I refuse to compare this movie to other movies out there. That feels too much like the Christian bookstore posters… “If you like Guns N Roses, try Audio Adrenaline.” If you like thoughtful indie movies that tell great stories, try Blue Like Jazz. Don’t compare this to anything, just go see it when it comes out April 13. A movie like this demands an audience to open up the conversation about what non-Christians think about Christians and how we can more accurately represent the gospel.

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